Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Chaunk, The Dabba, and You: Our First Giveaway!

When Alan and I launched The Chaunk last November we set out to share my love of cooking Indian food with others and to show people how easy it can be if you have the right ingredients. I'd been cooking Indian food for about 26 years and I named my blog The Colors of Indian Cooking because to me, the Indian Spice Box or Dabba resembled a culinary box of crayons. So like any good box of crayons we started with the Basic 8.
   

About a month ago we added a selection of Rubs and Flavors for grilling and spicing up both meat and vegetables


The Chaunk is now adding a Free Newsletter. Subscribe to our mailing list and you'll get access to exclusive recipes, special offers, discounts, the latest news  from The Chaunk, and  a chance to win a beautiful GitaDini Spice Dabba. And if you have a Spice Dabba, you'd better have some Indian Cooking Spices to go into it, so we're including a Chaunk 8 Pack to get you started!


I have had my Gita Dini Dabba for 3 years now and it sits right beside my stove ready for action. It's an easy and efficient way to keep what you need near you in one dedicated spot...


...plus it's damn good looking!!!!!


GitaDini makes a whole array of kitchen items for Indian cooking, from Chapatti tools, to Idili molds and beyond. Check out there amazing selection of goods right here. 

So sign up! For the newsletter, and a chance to win the GitaDini Spice Dabba and The Chaunk 8 Pack!


Our contest will be running until July 5th, so sign up and get a chance to be one of our winners and a big thanks to the folks at GitaDini for helping to make all this possible. Coming up next, easy cooling Indian dishes for your Fouth of July BBQ. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A Fast Cooling Soup Made For Tomato Season.


   Summer has hit Sonoma and we are already knee deep in delicious sweet tomatoes. I don't think I actually ever really tasted a proper fresh tomato until we started spending time in Sonoma. Before that the only tomatoes I'd had tasted like hard pink billiard balls and I would do almost anything to avoid using fresh ones as most of them just plain sucked. Then I tasted fresh summer tomatoes and I never looked back. We grew a lot of them last year. I used them in my Indian cooking and so they became a must when we planted this years garden.


   Normally those tomatoes would go into a raita or some other Indian dish. I certainly never made a soup from them, or a pasta sauce. But then  I started working for CocoaPlanet. The CocoaPlanet folks are opening their tasting room and bistro very soon here in Sonoma and I've been helping develop their menu. The owners are gluten free and so is their chocolate. Their Bistro and Tasting Room is going to be a totally completely gluten free establishment. You heard me... no gluten on the premesis.

   I've spent many years cooking gluten free for friends, (I myself am not gluten intolerant) and since Indian food is pretty easy to prepare gluten free, it's never been a problem for people visiting our house. I blend my own flours and we've been having a ball dessert-tasting tarts, cookies, cakes etc. A lot of the desserts are also vegan so this place is going to have something for everyone.


   Yes, these guys are both gluten free and vegan.....anyway, that brings me to this soup.  Man does not live by macarons alone. And Anne McKibben, founder of CocoaPlanet wanted a lovely fresh tomato soup, similar to ones made by her French mother. Totally pure, tasting of straight up garden fresh tomatoes, this was the unicorn of tomato soups. So after doing my research, I adapted this French recipe... no cooking involved, it's easily made in a blender no muss no fuss. All it requires is the best freshest tomatoes one can find, and this time of year that's pretty easy.

Fresh Tomato Soup With Tarragon Creme Fraiche


Here's What You Need:
4 lbs fresh tomatoes
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cups of vegetable broth
1Tbs red wine vinegar
2 tsps sugar

For the Creme Fraiche:
1/2 cup creme fraiche
1 and 1/2 Tbs chopped tarragon, and some extra for a garnish


Here's What To Do:
Cut the tomatoes in half on the equator side.
Using a teaspoon scoop out the seeds then cut the tomatoes in quarters.
Place the tomatoes in a blender
Add in everything else except the creme fraiche.
Hit Blend!!!
Pour the soup through a mesh basket to filter out any tomato skin or seeds that might be left.
Chill the soup for at least 2 hours and serve it up.

Before serving, whip 1 and 1/2 Tbs of chopped  fresh tarragon into the creme fraiche.
Place a dollop of the tarragon mixture in the center of the soup and you are ready to go!
If you want this to be totally vegan, either omit the creme fraiche or use a vegan creme fraiche.


If you want to make your own non vegan creme friache, mix together a cup of whipping cream with 2 Tbs buttermilk cover the cup with cheese cloth and set it out for 8 to 24 hours to thicken. Voila! Creme Fraiche! Store in a closed jar in the fridge.

   Coming up next, a contest. We're going to be giving away some Spice Kits from our company The Chaunk ...


...and  Spice Dabbas from the folks at GitaDini to store your spices in.



   So, watch this space! Meanwhile follow along on Twitter at @kathygori

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Fish Story! A Quick and Easy Recipe For An Unexpected Lunch.

   As a kid, my family and I spent many summers north of San Francisco at Lake Tahoe. Tahoe, if you've never seen it is a large freshwater lake that straddles the border of California and Nevada.


At the North Shore where we used to go, the water is deep blue and icy cold. Tahoe is the largest Alpine lake in North America, and the second deepest lake behind Crater Lake. When I was younger, the stories told about Tahoe were many including the fact that in certain parts it was mysteriously "bottomless."  This was enough to creep out the kids around the campfire, as who knew what might be living down there. Sea monsters, demons, the Loch Tahoe Monster? As it turns out something pretty damn big, which happens to also be pretty damn tasty....Mackinaw.

Lake Tahoe Mackinaw caught by Gene St. Dennis
   
   We were coming back from our morning walk with Patsy the other day when Leo, our neighbor from across the road popped out and asked us if we ate fish. Yes, I said. He then proceeded to give us an enormous slab of fresh caught Tahoe Mackinaw. He told me it looked and tasted just like Salmon. So, never one to look a gift fish in the mouth, I took it home and tried to figure out what to do with it.
    
   The first thing I did was look up Mackinaw in Google and read that it indeed tasted and looked like salmon. So I decided to see how people went about cooking this particular sort of fish. Mackinaw can be pretty fatty and in some cases can stink up the house (or so I read) so I decided we needed to cook this sucker outside. While Alan prepped the grill, I looked around to see what I had to work with in the pantry. Corn, maple syrup, prosciutto and spinach were all fresh. I'd been planning a different sort of lunch, not involving any of these foods but hey, when nature gives you mackinaw....

Lake Trout Cooked In Corn Husks


Here's What You Need:
1 lb of Lake Trout
1/4 cup of maple syrup
2 ears of corn
4 thin slices of prosciutto
salt to taste

Here's What To Do:
Preheat the grill to about 400 degrees.
Pat the fish dry, and remove any fatty parts.
Husk the corn and place the corn husks on a cookie sheet.
Place the fish skin side down on top of the corn husks and brush with a bit of the maple syrup.


Place the thin strips of prosciutto on top of the fish.


Place the cookie sheet of fish on the grill.


Close the lid and cook for about 10 minutes or until it flakes easily.
I also roasted the corn beside the fish.
Meanwhile I dusted 1/2 a lime with kashmiri chili.


When the fish is done. Remove it from the corn husks and serve it up. Rub the lime on top of the roasted corn... you don't need any butter. I served this with small gluten-free spinach tarts.


   Leo was right, the mackinaw tasted just like salmon and I didn't risk having a stinky fish house since all the cooking was done outdoors. I imagine the same technique can be used on regular salmon.  It was a fast, unexpected lunch from surprise fish and fridge and pantry items. Seems like my old Girl Scout motto, always be prepared does come in handy once in a while. Coming up next, more Indian food, a great prize giveaway from The Chaunk and GitaDini follow along on Twitter @kathygori
    

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Here Comes Summer! Meat or Veg? Get Your Spice On With New Rubs and Flavors From The Chaunk.


   A few months ago we introduced our Indian Cooking Spice Kit The Chaunk. The Chaunk enables anyone to cook tasty Indian food easily using authentic spices and recipes. Now that the warm weather is here, we wanted to share with you an even easier way to add a hit of Indian spice to the Summer Kitchen, The Chaunk Rubs and Flavors. I've been using these blends in my own cooking for years, rubbing them on meats and fish, sprinkling them into vegetables and beans.

The Kashmiri BBQ Rub is great on ribs.  Rub it in and start grilling. Add 2 Tbs of it to apple cider vinegar and water and heat it up for a delicious mop sauce. It's equally good on chicken.


I also cooked some rainbow carrots then finished them off in a pan with a bit of butter and Kashmiri BBQ rub. It's  terrific rubbed on grilled corn with a squeeze of lime.


The Bengali 5 Spice Mix makes any vegetables shine. Add it to pan roast potatoes, or eggplant.


The Triple C Grill Rub an be added to dals, chicken, and beans. Whatever needs a hint of mild flavor.


We are also excited to be introducing The Chaunk Newsletter. Join us and you will receive great seasonal recipes not appearing on the blog, advance notice of new products, and special sales and  giveaways being offered exclusively to Newsletter subscribers. And it's free! So if you'd like to be included, you can sign up here:

Coming up next, fast and easy Indian recipes to spice up your Summer entertaining. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Just In Time for This Weekends Festivities, Gluten Free (or not) Blueberry Tarts with Buttermilk Ice Cream.

 
   It's blueberry season here in Sonoma and the berries are available all over town at prices I just couldn't resist. I've been woking on a lot of all gluten-free, low sugar desserts for the new CocoaPlanet Tasting Room and Bistro opening here in Sonoma very very soon. The owners of CocoaPlanet are gluten intolerant and so this is going to be a completely gluten free facility. I've been working with a variety of non-gluten flours for years all because of cooking Indian food, and I've been having a great time whipping up dishes and desserts to be served in the cafe. We taste test every Saturday night, but I couldn't wait. I saw these blueberries and had to bake tarts STAT! These little tarts are super easy and they can be made with either gluten-free flour or regular flour, no difference.  Either way they're a perfect dessert for a warm late Spring evening in the CocoaPlanet garden.

Blueberry Tarts


Here's What You Need:

For the Tart Dough: 
1 1/4 cups of flour, (regular or gluten free) plus a bit more for dusting
3 Tbs sugar
1/4 tsp salt
7 Tbs unsalted butter chopped up
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
3 Tbs ice water
see the link here for directions


For The Filling:
4 cups of fresh blueberries washed and stemmed
2 Tbs corn starch
1/3 cup of sugar
2 tsp lemon zest
2 Tbs lemon juice
a pinch of salt

Buttermilk Ice cream

Here's What to do:
Mix your tart dough directions here
When the dough is blended and formed into a disc wrap it in saran wrap or waxed paper and let it firm up in the fridge for at least an hour. If you're making gluten free dough pop it into the freezer for about 10 minutes before working with it.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Butter 5 small tart pans with removable bottoms.
Cut your disc of chilled dough into  five pieces
Roll one out and shape it into a disc.
Fit the dough into the tart pan.


Trim away the excess dough.


Do this with each tart pan.


Set them aside.
In a large bowl mix together the blueberries with the lemon zest.


Add in the corn starch...


...lemon juice...


...and sugar.


Stir everything together well then pour the berry mixture into each tart pan.


Put the pans on a baking sheet and pop them into the 375 degree oven.


Bake them for about 20 to 30 minutes. You'll know when they're done when the crust begins to turn firm and golden.
Take them out and slide them onto a cooling rack.


Let them sit for at least 20 minutes before unmolding.


Serve them plain or with the topping of your choice. I made some buttermilk ice cream since buttermilk and blueberries go so well together.


    Enjoy! This can also be done with whatever fruit tickles your fancy. You don't have to limit yourself to blueberries. In fact strawberries, or raspberries and blueberries together make a perfect combo for Fourth of July! Coming up next, something spicy and new direct from The Chaunk to you. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Full of Beans! Slow and Easy, Rancho Gordo Royal Coronas Go Masala.

   
   I love fresh beans. They're versatile, inexpensive, and they feed a whole passel of people easily. What I don't like about beans is whenever I want beans it requires planning... and by planning I mean a long soaking. Therefore, by the time I'm ready to eat beans, I'm too lazy to do all the prep work necessary.  Well, all that's out the window now that I've cooked Royal Corona Beans from Rancho Gordo in my slow cooker. I'd  bought a bag of Royal Coronas at the Rancho Gordo store a couple of months ago purely because of the way they looked. Royal Coronas are huge white beans, and as I discovered, they get even bigger after cooking. Three times bigger to be exact. Two cups of dried Royal Coronas can easily feed 6 people at one meal, or two people for two days.
    
   In planning how to prepare them, I decided to cook them the same way I do chole (garbanzo beans) as I thought the spices would be a great compliment to the creamy texture of these big beauties, but I was worried about timing.  I didn't want to spend an entire bean-centric day. Steve Sando owner and founder of Rancho Gordo told me that if dried beans are truly fresh (and his are), long pre-soaking is not a must. One can go right to the cooking phase which is what I did. Skeptically, I must  admit but as I discovered, Steve was right!

   Four hours in a slow cooker in some water, softened these babies up perfectly so that they were ready for the final phase. In this case the final phase took about 20 minutes which is pretty dang good and fast for a dried bean recipe. In fact I put the beans and their cooking water into the fridge overnight and finished the dish quickly for lunch  the next day using the spices from my trusty The Chaunk Box .So fire up your slow cooker for big juicy, creamy, Royal Coronas without a whole lot of preparation.

Royal Corona Masala


Here's What You Need:
2 Tbs vegetable oil (I use coconut oil )
2 cups of dried Rancho Gordo Royal Corona Beans
1 onion finely chopped
1 tsp cumin seed
4 tsps finely chopped fresh ginger
4 shallots chopped
2 serrano chilies minced
1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses


Here's What To Do:
Place  2 cups of dried Royal Corona beans in a slow cooker with 6 cups of water.
Turn the slow cooker up to high and let them simmer for about 4 hours. They'll swell up  and get tender.
Drain the beans but save the water they've been cooked in as it contains a lot of the nutrients and you'll also be using it later in the recipe.
In a skillet or kadhai heat the vegetable oil.


When the oil is hot, add in the cumin seeds.


Once they start to sizzle (this is almost instantly) toss in the onion, shallot, ginger, salt, and green chilies.


Saute everything until the onion and shallot are cooked through and translucent.
Once the onions and shallot are soft, add in the garam masala, coriander, and turmeric.


Stir this mixture around for about 1 minute then add in the tomatoes
and the juice from the can.


add the cooked Royal Coronas also.


These are big suckers! Stir them around well and make sure everything is well mixed and add in 1/2 cup of the saved bean water.


Bring the mixture to a simmer, and let it cook like that for about 20 minutes. The sauce will have thickened and the flavors blended.


Check the salt for seasoning and you can serve this over plain Basmati rice or on its own.
Top with a dab of yogurt to cut the heat, and drizzle with a bit of pomegranate molasses to highlight the sweet meatiness of the beans.


 Top with a bit of chopped cilantro and that's it! 

   Letting the slow cooker do the work makes pulling this bean dish together quick and simple. Add a chapatti or dosa and that's all she wrote. I'm going to be cooking a lot more of these Royal Coronas as I think prepared in this manner they're a natural for Summer Cook outs.

  
   Now that I've converted to this easy way of cooking the beans I want, when I want them, I'm going to be doing a lot more Indian translations of New World beans. Coming up next Seasonal Indian cooking and something new for Summer from The Chaunk follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Down and Dirty and Gluten Free...Edible Dirt

       
   The reason my posts have been a bit sporadic of late is I have been working for the CocoaPlanet people who are opening their new chocolate factory and Bistro here in Sonoma. A few months back they hired me to help develop gluten free items for their menu. This bistro is going to be totally and completely Gluten Free. Because the owners and their family are gluten free, their chocolate is gluten free. Because their factory is on the premises, the restaurant and tasting room attached will also be a completely gluten free facility. They're not messing around. Finally there will be an absolutely gluten free restaurant here in Sonoma.
 
   One of the things I like best about it is we're not trying to make things just plain gluten free, I'm used to working with a large variety of flours, and the things I'm making are naturally gluten free...in other words that's how they're made anyway, they just happen to be gluten free. No twists and turns, no jumping through hoops.
       
   One of the things that they are going to have on the menu are these charming little desserts. Deep Dark Truffle pots de creme topped with "edible dirt". Ever since I made edible dirt for a piece in Honest Cooking Magazine a few years back I've loved the concept. When we started talking about turning it from a savory to a sweet it just seemed like a natural fit. The base is a rich chocolaty mousse, the topping gluten free. The process super easy.
    

Edible Dirt


Here's What You Need:
8 chocolate shortbread gluten free cookies. (These  can also be made vegan. The dough for these cookies is very easy to make and stores well in the fridge or freezer. I usually have a roll of it on hand for cookie emergencies.)
3 discs of Cocoa Planet Deep Dark Truffle Chocolate
1/2 cup of toasted pumpkin seeds


Here's What to do:
Place the shortbread cookies in a food processor and pulse until it has the appearance of rough soil.


Set it aside in a mixing bowl.


Dry roast 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds in a cast iron skillet until they're lightly toasted.
Take the pumpkin seeds and place them in the food processor with the chocolate discs.


Pulse them until they also resemble soil.


Mix the ground up pumpkin seeds and chocolate with the ground up shortbread cookies and you have some pretty convincing looking dirt.


Now for the fun part.
Take your containers of chocolate mousse or pudding. (I used small heat resistant glass flowerpot shaped votive holders that I found on Amazon for about 11 bucks a dozen and filled them with delicious chocolate mousse.)
Add a few edible flowers. Our entire garden is organic so I went out and cut a few mini roses for decor.


Sprinkle a few spoonfuls of edible dirt on top of the chocolate mousse just before serving.


Stick a flower in it and bingo! Dessert!

 
Easy, fun, gluten free, and both the mousse and the cookies can be made vegan. Yes, this has been done with Oreos etc....but homemade is so much better!  Coming up next...we've just planted our vegetables for this season so more vegetarian Indian delights, and big news for beans. We're also introducing a new product The Chaunk Rubs and Flavors just in time for Summer grilling season.


Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

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